May 2, 2013 10:01:21 AM
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State University men's basketball will be returning to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for the second time in three years.
MSU announced Thursday morning they have been invited to participate in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, scheduled for Dec. 22-23 at the Orleans Arena. MSU will join UNLV, South Florida and Santa Clara, with the bracket to be announced at a later date. Last year, Colorado State won the tournament after knocking off Virginia Tech, 88-52.
All four teams will also play two on-campus games as part of this event. Those opponents will be announced at a later date but similarly to the games proceeding last year's Maui Invitational, no matter if any of those four highlighted schools lose, all four will still make the trip to Las Vegas.
"I am excited about the opportunity to go out and compete in the Las Vegas Classic," MSU coach Rick Ray said in a university release. "Santa Clara, South Florida and UNLV are quality teams that will provide our players tough out-of-conference competition. Our guys look forward to the opportunity in Las Vegas."
Mississippi State is no stranger to the New Orleans Arena. In December of 2010, the Bulldogs dropped a 94-72 decision to St. Mary's.
- UNLV is coming off a 25-10 season under coach second-year coach Dave Rice that earned the Rebels a 5-seed in the 2013 NCAA tournament but were upset in the round of 64 by California 64-61 in San Jose, Calif.
The Rebels feature forward Anthony Bennett, a 6-8 low post threat that averaged a team-high 16.1 points per game. UNLV also returns a double-figure scorer at guard in Bryce Dejean-Jones but will also be losing forward Mike Moser as a graduating transfer that will be eligibility to play for another school immediately next season.
- South Florida returns eight members from a disappointing 12-19 season that saw them drop to 13th in their final season in the 14-team Big East (which will be called the American Athletic Conference in 2013-14). Bulls coach Stan Heath has brought in the 22nd-ranked recruiting class according to ESPN.com that is headlined by four-star, 6-foot-10 center John Egbunu from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and four-star power forward Chris Perry from Bartow, Fla.
- Santa Clara won the 2013 CBI tournament completing a 26-win season that included a fourth place finish in the West Coast Conference. Last year's campaign was a complete reversal from the 8-win season in 2011-12 where they went 0-16 in conference play. The Broncos will be losing their two leading scorers from the 2012-13 season to graduation and the only double-figure scorer returning on the roster is guard Evan Roquemore.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.